What is the main reason that using the pistol grip in judo is forbidden? Is it the restriction of the movement or another one?

2 Answers 2


Judo competitions have a lot of rules, and these rules are tweaked for most Olympic cycles. A primary driver of rule modifications is to promote attacking for a positive score and discourage "negative judo", that is winning by stalling or forcing the opponent to accumulate penalties.

Pistol grips used to be banned while standing. My understanding is that this was because the pistol grip is more effective in preventing the opponent from attacking than it is in helping you to attack. Under current rules, pistol grips are allowed if you attack quickly enough.

From the section on shidos (minor penalties) from the International Judo Federation (IJF) refereeing rules:

  1. To intentionally avoid taking kumi-kata in order to prevent action in the contest. Normal kumi-kata is taking hold the right side of the opponent’s judogi, be it the sleeve, collar, chest area, top of the shoulder or back with the left hand and with the right hand the left side of the opponent’s judogi be it the sleeve, collar, chest area, top of the shoulder or back and always above the belt or vice versa.

    As long as a contestant makes a cross grip, that means with two hands, one hand on the opposite side of the back, shoulder or arm of the other contestant, he should attack immediately, or the referee must penalise with shido. Under no circumstances it is permitted to grab below the belt.

    Cross gripping should be followed by an immediate attack. Same rule as for belt gripping and one side gripping.


  1. Unconventional kumi-kata (cross grip, one side grip, belt grip, pocket grip, pistol grip etc.) will be penalised if there is no immediate attack (see the following examples of unconventional kumi-kata).

However, this wording has been slightly modified for the 2024 Olympics

Belt grip, one side grip, cross grip, pistol grip and pocket grip are not traditional grips. If taken, time will be allowed for the preparation of an attack

With a traditional grip, you can grip for a while without being penalized. With a non-traditional grip such as a pistol grip, you must attack quickly to avoid penalty.

On the ground, these gripping rules do not apply because you are allowed to stall on the ground. When referee determines that no one is making progress, they will stand you back up.


I will start with a disclaimer. This is a little bit outside my area of expertise since I am relatively new to judo. That said:

From what I can tell a pistol grip does appear to be legal in Judo, but you have to launch an immediate attack from that position. But there is the rub right? What attacks are available from a pistol grip?

You could lift the arm to initiate seo nagi or tai otoshi or whatever but the pistol grip is probably suboptimal for this compared to a standard grip.

You could attempt a weird version of san gyaku but again it's not exactly a good starting point.

Now I was rolling the other day (groundwork sparing) and the 5th dan I was paired with did actually use the pistol grip. Needless to say he submitted me multiple times, but the interesting point is that in the other style I practice (Shorinji Kempo) the Pistol grip is not only legal but relatively common...

As a result when he moved into the pistol grip I was immediately able to use a technique to reverse the grip by making a circular movement with my wrist. But then I realised, the next move of the technique was illegal in judo as it was a kantetsu waza (joint lock) to the wrist. I had made the grip fairly ineffective and so my opponent let go and took a new grip, but I was unable to capitalise on this advantage without breaking the rules.

This got me thinking, if wrist locks are banned and wrist locks are the natural counter to pistol grip perhaps pistol grip was banned to balance the standing techniques.

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